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Russian authorities charge American journalist, Evan Gershkovich with spying

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According to local media reports, Russian authorities have charged American journalist Evan Gershkovich with spying. Mr Gershkovich was arrested while working on a story in Yekaterinburg.

The Wall Street Journal, where Mr Gershkovich is a reporter, has demanded his immediate release. The Kremlin has claimed that Mr Gershkovich was caught “red-handed.” Meanwhile, the White House and Senate Republican and Democratic leaders have condemned his detention, demanding that the “baseless, fabricated charges” be dropped and he be immediately released.

The WSJ has called the charges “categorically false and unjustified” and continues to push for Mr Gershkovich’s immediate release. Despite the US officials’ efforts to access Mr Gershkovich, they have not been able to visit him yet. The Russian foreign ministry has stated that the issue of consular access is being resolved. However, they have claimed that the “fuss in the US about this case, which was aimed at pressurising the Russian authorities… was hopeless and senseless.”

The FSB security service has alleged that Mr Gershkovich was “acting on US instructions” and had “collected information classified as a state secret about the activities of a Russian defense enterprise.” If found guilty of espionage, Mr Gershkovich faces a maximum jail term of 20 years in Russia.

Mr Gershkovich has been reporting on Russia’s declining economy, with a particular focus on how the Kremlin is dealing with “ballooning military expenditures” while maintaining social spending. Reporters Without Borders has stated that he had gone to Yekaterinburg to cover the Russian mercenary group Wagner, which has taken part in some of the heaviest fighting in eastern Ukraine. He has been working for the Wall Street Journal for over a year, having previously worked for the AFP news agency and the Moscow Times.

The international community has expressed outrage over Mr Gershkovich’s arrest. Press freedom advocates and journalists have called for his immediate release.

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